Open Letter to Those Forcing NY Schools to Change Indigenous Team Names
I grew up in Mechanicville and have enormous pride in being a Red Raider. Our school has always embodied the spirit through our team name.
Three years ago, when the district knew there would be changes in the Native American imagery and names of New York School teams, Mechanicville was proactive. I was part of the committee to come up with a way to eliminate the Native American imagery and ultimately decide on just the block letter "M". But we all thought that the name "Red Raiders" would be able to stay. We were wrong.
School districts across the state that have team names that are deemed to be Indigenous-related must change them by 2025 or are being threatened to lose state funding. Now my alma matter must also adopt a new team name.
Although I understand the reasoning behind changing imagery, I don't agree with all of the team names having to change. For instance, a "Red Raider" could be associated with something completely different such as the Las Vegas Raiders NFL team. I also feel that a "Warrior" is someone who fights and overcomes not necessarily a Native American.
I also have questions about who will be paying for all of the changes. There are thousands of dollars of turf fields, signage, and uniforms that all have to be changed as well to accommodate the new names. Because the state is mandating the changes, will they chip in the pay for them?
These are just my opinions because I am passionate about my school and the pride I have in being a Red Raider. The name will ultimately change, and life will go on, but when we won the NY State Girls' Soccer Championship we were the Mechanicville Red Raiders. At least no one can take that away from us.
No matter what team name is adopted, it will still be Mechanicville which represents a cohesive and amazing school district and community.